New age terror:
Tackling IS requires modern tools
and a multidimensional approach
July 5, 2016, Times of India editorial.1
(Note: This is a commentary on 3 successive editorials (2nd, 4th & 5th July) from Times of India highlighting the urgency of tackling terrorist menace in India.Terror here, terror there, terror everywhere and innocent lives are lost, and all cry in despair. Why have these strikes become a trademark of modern life of our globalized world? What is more, why no notable concerted efforts – local, regional, national or international – are planned and executed, first to stem the rising tide, second to wipe it out completely? International efforts of warring nations to bombard them out of existence have only been counter-productive –scattering terror all over the world.
War and peace get germinated first in the minds and hearts of humans and it is there defences against terror have to be constructed by peace loving people and media in general. One good example is that of Times of India which wrote 3 editorials in 2 days, given below, to create public awareness and mobilize public opinion against all sorts of violence, through non-violence the trade mark of Gandhiji and India.
It was generally assumed that poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and exploitation by the rich are the breeding grounds of militants, Naxalites and revolutionary groups. But recent study has found most of the terrorists to be well-educated young professionals between 20 and 40 from upper strata of society, not even imported from outside, but home grown. This again proves that misguided and destructive moral creeds and new and enticing social, intellectual and political philosophies are providing fertile grounds for terrorism and Jihadism in India.
It is said ad nauseam that Islam is a religion of peace, yet most of terrorists caught are Muslims acting on conflicting interpretations and understanding of their religious teachings. One such teaching has produced the ISIS or the Islamic state of Iraq & Syria. The silver lining is that this tendency is roundly criticized and condemned by many sensible Muslims themselves. Their number ought to increase and multiply. Instant communication through internet has reduced the world into a small village, the global village. It is now for the internet-savy, peace loving young people to build bulwarks in the minds of their confreres, since it is through these social media india’s youngsters with an aggressive streak are easily and enticingly radicalized. james kottoor, editor)
The Dhaka terror attack on an upscale restaurant has reinforced the image of the new age terrorist. Three of the Dhaka attackers apparently were from well-to-do families and studied in elite schools. They did not have previous criminal records and were active on social media. At some point they appear to have been radicalised, most likely over the internet. Once indoctrinated, they turned killers for their extremist ideology.
This pattern is in stark contrast to the earlier perception of terrorists exploiting the poor and the illiterate to recruit them for their radical cause. Given the increasingly ubiquitous nature of IT-enabled communication mediums, groups like IS can motivate and harvest recruits over the internet. In India, security agencies have unearthed IS modules in places like Roorkee and Hyderabad that were formed along similar lines. These groups received instructions from their handlers online, obtained money through hawala networks, and were themselves in the process of formulating plans to attack public targets.
In light of this, security agencies need to adopt a multidimensional approach to tackle terror. First, monitoring online activities of suspected terror recruits and their handlers will help in nipping nascent extremist modules in the bud. Hitherto Indian security agencies have managed to do this with some success. But they can’t afford to drop their guard. Second, counter-radicalisation programmes with the help of community leaders and clerics need to be pushed to counter extremist ideology. It’s welcome that many Indian Muslim clerics have openly denounced terrorism and IS. However, more needs to be done in this direction.
Third, IS modules too are funded through clandestine financial channels and hawala networks. Cracking down on these is crucial to disrupt terror plans. Fourth, IS has shown the propensity to create discord in society and take advantage of the resulting chaos – the Hyderabad module was planning to stimulate riots by placing beef in temples. Hence, Hindutva groups must refrain from their cow vigilantism and whipping up passions over beef – this plays right into the hands of terrorists and their divide-and-exploit strategy.
A great deal will also depend on how the battle to recapture core territories held by the caliphate in Iraq and Syria goes. Success here would substantially diminish the caliphate’s brand value and ability to inspire terror attacks across the world over the long term. This does not, however, diminish the necessity of extreme watchfulness in the short term.
Terror strikes Dhaka:
Bangladeshi Government needs abroad-
spectrum approach to fight the menace
July 4, 2016, Times of India Editorial
The horrific terror attack at the upscale Holey Artisan cafe in the Bangladeshi capital city of Dhaka, where Islamist terrorists took hostages before killing 20 of them, has necessitated a serious re-evaluation of the threat perception. Unlike the machete-wielding murderers of bloggers in Bangladesh, the gun-toting terrorists at Holey Artisan – who were neutralised by Bangladeshi security forces after a 10 hour siege – were well organised. That they chose to target a restaurant frequented by foreigners shows clear objective. The 20 dead include 9 Italians, 7 Japanese, an American and 19-year-old Indian Tarishi Jain. This indicates the terrorists wanted to send out the message that Bangladesh is unsafe for foreigners.
While the Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for this attack, hitherto the Bangladeshi government has refused to acknowledge the presence of transnational terror outfits in its country. Instead, it has blamed local extremists. But at this point it’s irrelevant to make such distinctions. The terrorists may well be local but they are inspired by a global radical Islamist agenda. For Bangladesh’s anti-terror response to be effective, Dhaka must take this into consideration. Focussing solely on local groups won’t do.
Second, Bangladesh’s fight against terror has been hobbled by domestic political acrimony. The ruling Awami League and its opponent BNP must work out a modus vivendi to fight the extremists. Otherwise, if Bangladesh falls under the global radical Islamist yoke, the country as a whole will suffer. Dhaka can no longer take a homeopathic approach to fight the Islamist terror virus, which has already infected Bangladeshi society.
Home-grown terror: Busting of Hyderabad IS
module laudable but reflects a deeper malaise
July 1, 2016, Times of India Editorial
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has broken a suspected terror module in Hyderabad, reportedly in advanced stages of planning multiple attacks on soft targets during the holy month of Ramzan. What should be of grave concern is the profile of the detainees: aged between 20 and 41 years and including several engineers. This has all the tell-tale signs of a home-grown and self-radicalised IS-inspired module.
This is the second big breakthrough after NIA had arrested 13 IS sympathisers ahead of Republic Day, with simultaneous raids at 12 locations in 6 cities. Another 29 IS sympathisers were arrested in 2015 for allegedly establishing recruitment bases in India. The common thread in most of these arrests has been the fugitive Indian Mujahideen operative Muhammad Shafi Armar, considered the chief mentor and recruiter for IS in India. Though security agencies have provided counselling to de-radicalise many such suspects in the past, the internet remains the biggest source of indoctrination for Muslim youth suffering from a feeling of persecution. Online mechanism like exclusive chat rooms play a vital role in spreading IS ideology and ingraining radicalism. The biggest challenge for law enforcement agencies is to effectively track these online terror crevices.
Home minister Rajnath Singh has credited both the security forces (for their alertness) and Indian Muslims (for mostly opposing IS) as the main reason why the terror group has not been able to make much impact in India. Security agencies need to work even more closely with community leaders, combining good intelligence and active monitoring. This also demands a delicate balancing act of acting tough on terror while keeping within legal red lines – otherwise security actions can be misused for violent propaganda by the terrorists.